The Longhorns had a tall order to fill on their second night in a row playing at Sullivan East High School. Taking on the larger, higher ranked Tennessee High Vikings Johnson County still made an impressive showing despite coming up short of the win. We gave ourselves a chance to win if we could have just cut the thing to 8 or 6 instead of 10 the whole time, said head Coach Austin Atwood. They had a battle last night with East and it was emotional, it was physical. We knew they were spent and I felt that if we could have just cut that thing to 6 or so we might have got a break in the end.
A strong first half for the Vikings allowed them to get into a defensive position 12 points ahead of the Longhorns early in the game. From there it was just a matter of keeping up with Johnson Countys offense and maintaining the lead. Brian Dempsey was the big scorer of the night, putting up 2 buckets and a free throw in the first quarter along with one bucket in the second, 3 in the third and four free throws and a bucket in the fourth to earn him19 overall.
Many of the other younger players like J.R. Speed and Chase Phillips became targets of the Vikings defense, effectively shutting them down through the course of the game. Theyre going to guard Phillips, Atwood said. They used 22 and 28. Chase has just got to learn how to play when being guarded. He will. Hes young and thats why we scheduled so many games early in the year, to get him and J.R. better. We had to rely on Dalton Timbs and Dempsey, Ryan Mahala, and Chris Poteet. Hes played well the last two games. Were just hoping playing a lot of games early will pay off in the end.
Even more subdued than usual, the Longhorns were still able to pull off some good offensive plays, with Timbs landing a 3 pointer in the second quarter and Poteet gaining 2 baskets in the third. By the beginning of the last quarter the Longhorns were still behind 33-45. Even then a few early successes in the fourth left fans hoping to see an upset. A basket by Dempsey followed by two consecutive Viking fouls against Dalton Timbs and Chase Phillips brought the deficit back down to 12. Fouls continued to help with two more against Dempsey pushing Johnson County up to 43 and another on Phillips up to 45. Unfortunately, with just over a minute remaining there simply was not enough time left in the game.
Still behind by 11 at 45-56 with just 22 seconds remaining, Jordan Grubb made the last basket of the night to finish out the game at 47. Despite the loss, Atwood still seemed very proud of his team and their efforts. I felt if we could have cut it they would have tightened up, Atwood said.
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